Friday, August 31, 2012

Some Disturbing News About Carrie Underwood.

***WARNING***

Today's blog may disturb you. I will manage to firmly prove once and for all that a certain country music star is probably both a witch and a terrorist. If finding out that country music stars are both witches and terrorists is something that is likely to disturb you, please close this page. 

I am not a superstitious man. 



When I woke up this morning, I had a thought run through my head, and it demanded to be examined, studied, and investigated to it's fullest extent, knowing that I had a duty to you, the reader, and to my country.

As most of you know, it has been quite dry in Oklahoma. Dry, hot, and humid. In fact, I haven't been able to step outside and NOT start sweating since early May. By the time I get done walking anywhere, it looks as though I've run a marathon. Being heavyset, people often know that I haven't run a marathon and that I'm just fat and out of shape. To those people, I say this: round is a shape. Suck it.

I don't know how many of my readers are familiar with country music star Carrie Underwood. If you've lived in Oklahoma for longer than ten minutes or you've ever watched American Idol, you'll know her as the winner of that show in 2005, catapulting her from anonymity to superstardom virtually overnight.

I have no opinion on Ms. Underwood's music. Some of it is catchy and fun, and other times it can be about Jesus driving your car for you. But lately, radio has been playing a song of hers called "Blown Away."



The tune is, as I mentioned, catchy and fun, and the song is about a young lady who watches her mean father die in a tornado while he's passed out drunk and she's in the fraidy-hole. Sort of a "what goes around comes around" story. At least she's not slashing anyone's tires, right?

This album was released on May 1st, 2012.

It just so happens that I have a a rainfall summary from the Oklahoma Climatological Survey that runs from May 3, 2012 to today's date. This picture illustrates the amount of rain we've had in Oklahoma compared to a "normal" year. The only reason I quoted up "normal" is because as an Oklahoman, I realize we've had exactly six "normal" years since statehood.

This shows it's been dryer than 
As you can see, it's bad. Terribly dry. Crops have suffered, lawns have suffered, and small, pale, Irish children like my poor niece cannot walk outside without having to be pumped full of fluids and slathered with sunscreen first. I've personally lost more skin to peeling this summer than I lost to bicycle crashes in the early nineties.

If you listened to the song in the video earlier, or you've heard it on the radio, you know that the lyrics feature the quote: "There's not enough rain in Oklahoma, to wash the sins out of this house." 

"There's not enough rain in Oklahoma."

"There's not enough rain in Oklahoma."

"There's not enough rain in Oklahoma."

Folks, hopefully I don't have to spell this out any clearer for you, but I will. The album came out on May 1st. Since May 3rd, we've had a near record lack of rain fall. In fact, the average has been almost seven inches below normal. Are you understanding? 

Carrie Underwood is a witch.

She has obviously released this album and this song as a curse on the state of Oklahoma. As long as radio stations keep playing it, the drought will last, and Oklahoma will eventually dry up and become the next Arizona. Only it won't be a dry heat. It will be a "Travis doesn't get off the couch because anytime he moves he ruins clothes with his copious sweat" kind of heat. 

Seen here at an awards performance in full witch garb, admitting that I'm right. 

If I can be proved wrong on this, let me know. I'm pretty sure the science behind it is 100% real, and so it can't be wrong. I suppose the final word would be to see if she weighs more than a duck.

The next and final charge I will level at Carrie is a bit more circumstantial, but it might appeal to the conspiracy theorist in all of you like it did to me. 

While perusing the data for my expert scientific research and eventual proof of Carrie witchcrafting Oklahoma a drought, I came across a startling revelation. Take a look at a screenshot of the survey. 


Looks normal, eh? 
Wrong. Look again.

This gives me the goosebumps, y'all. 
Is Carrie Underwood a terrorist as well as a witch? Did she have a hand in 9/11? I'll leave that up to Governor Jessie Ventura and the Supreme Court to decide. But after singing songs about destroying vehicles and watching people die in tornados, let's just say I have a heavy suspicion. 

I'm just laying the facts out for you people. Take them and run. And I didn't even have time to mention what she did to Tony Romo and the Cowboys. 



*All charges leveled against Carrie in this blog are of course based on nothing but pure scientific research, but at the same time, I am not actually accusing her of being a witch or a terrorist. I'm adding this for legal reasons, which really seems as though I have a grand opinion of myself, thinking she might actually see this. Carrie, if you read this, I love you. Marry me. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Dissection of the Basic Good, also "Travis is a Jackass."

I have a lot of faith in humanity.

I'm pretty sure I've told you all this before, but I'd like to reiterate that I believe in the basic good in every person. I also believe that if you put your faith in that basic good into action, then you will be rewarded more than you will be disappointed.

As a believer in that basic good, I try to contribute to it whenever I can. I like to say nice things about people when I can (notwithstanding a few errant diatribes, i.e. some of these blogs), I hold doors for people, and I just generally try to be what I expect people to be to me.

This past week, I've had a couple of experiences with people being exceptionally polite or nice to me. I am certain that no one will ever recognize them for it, so I'm choosing to do it now, as well as tell a story linked to a Facebook status I posted earlier this week.

I went to a grocery store in Warner, Oklahoma a couple of nights ago, and as I was leaving with my items, a mom and her little boy walked in the door I was preparing to exit. My hands were full, and the mom looked at me and walked by, not taking a second glance. The little boy was about ten, and he quickly followed his mother, then looked up and saw me. He immediately turned around, went back to the door, and opened it for me. I was blown away. I looked at him, bent down a little bit to get on his level, and said, "Thank you very much sir, that was very kind."

I have hope for future generations because of that kid.

Yesterday, I took The Missus out for our weekly lunch date. I'm either at school or working pretty much the whole week through now, so we don't see each other very often. We went to Miss Addie's Pub in Muskogee, sat down, and had a very nice meal. We talked and laughed, and I made a huge effort to ignore my phone for the hour we had together. I also had a gin and tonic. Don't judge me.

I paid the bill, then we left. I dropped her off at work, and then went to get my truck washed. As I pulled up to the machine that takes the money, I looked at my wallet and realized I'd left my debit card at the Pub. I called them, and they told me that yes, I'd left it, and yes they had it sitting in the cash register, ready for me to pick up any time I wanted to. To some people, that might seem like a normal expectation, and maybe it should be. But I feel like they should be recognized for it, simply because it was an act of honesty and integrity that would otherwise pass unnoticed, and therefore unappreciated, by all.

My thanks to you, employees of Miss Addie's.

And now, the greatest thing to happen to me this week.

I walked into a convenience store on Monday morning to get some refreshments before class. I grabbed a bottle of water and got in line to check out. As I was waiting, I got a little rumbly in the ol' tumbly. You know what I'm talking about. Not the "sweet Moses I have to find a bathroom now or it's gonna get real" kind of rumble, but the "Hey, you know what sounds good? Chips and beef jerky," kind of rumble. Being somewhat on a diet (read: taking a prescription diet pill) I decided against chips and beef jerky and stepped out of line to grab a Special K bar.

Assuming I had given up my place in line, I went to get behind the young lady who was standing behind me just moments before. As I did, she looked at me and motioned me back in front of her, saying, "Go ahead." I said, "You sure?" and she nodded yes. I thanked her, and turned to complete my transaction. Before I did, I looked at the items she held in her hand and did a quick tabulation of about how much they cost. Since I am terrible at math, I calculated what I think was a can of pop and candy bar to come out to around five dollars. Don't judge me.

As I got my change back, I got an idea. I handed the cashier a five dollar bill and said, "Go ahead and use that to pay for her stuff." The cashier just looked at me and started blinking repeatedly, like maybe she needed to blink in order to process information correctly. Eventually she arrived at understanding, then smiled. I walked towards the door, and as I opened it, the young lady behind me said, "Thank you, you didn't have to do that."

I'd like to set aside this paragraph for explaining that sometimes I can get a bit full of myself. I don't mean to, but if I do something nice, I like to think I'm the greatest philanthropist of all time, and I know that's wrong. Don't judge me.

Full of my philanthropic benevolence, I turned smartly on my heel and pointed at her to deliver my final line, sort of a "say it and ride into the night and never look back" kind of line, one that was full of meaning, and designed to instantly let this young lady and the cashier know that I was not only a good person, but well-spoken as well. I wanted it to look as though my words were divinely inspired on High by the Lord Himself, and carried from lips by flaming angels.

"No ma'am, thank YOU. It's nice to know there aren't douchebags in the world."

Me, delivering the line, anointed with the fire of the Lord, and the cashier behind the counter.
The benefactor of my generosity was not pictured because the expression of gratitude on her face cannot be captured in any medium.
Full of pride and impressed at my rich vocabulary and use of syntax, I executed a perfect about face and promptly fell over a pyramid shaped cigarette ashtray.
I call this "Fallen Messenger." 
As I struggled valiantly to pick up both the ashtray and my pride, I comforted myself with the knowledge that I would never have to see either of them again. I left the store, and continued on my way to biology, full of life lessons and with a funny Facebook status to share with you all.

But what I didn't tell you...

...is that she walked into Biology class right behind me.

Monday, August 27, 2012

On Living in Dichotomy.

From Sunday, August 26:

Today was a bad day. 

I didn't get enough sleep last night, and I woke up tired. 

I looked at an article I had published in the paper this morning and I saw that they had "edited" in a typo. It bothered me. 

We rushed to get to church on time as usual. We got to church, sat down, and listened to our pastor preach about death. 

He talked about what was more tragic; the sudden loss of a young lady in a car wreck, or the loss of a old woman who hasn't been in good health for a while. I've experienced both in the last eight months. You'd think I'd be qualified to make that decision, but I'm not. I have no idea which was more tragic. 

Of course after thinking about that, I thought about dad. I thought about how much he's missed. From there it didn't take long for me to start blaming God for the fact that our children will never meet him. To them, Brian Sloat is myth, a legend, no more real than anyone else that they've never met. And after that, I contemplated my own mortality. 

I'm afraid of death. It terrifies me. As a Christian, death is the ultimate reward. You are absent from the body and present with Christ. So why am I scared to die? What scares me about being with Jesus? Some would say that I have doubts. Doubts about my salvation, doubts about my faith, and doubts about my beliefs. Our pastor said I shouldn't be afraid of death. 

The Sunday School lesson we had talked about affairs. It talked about how easy they were to fall into, and how it is always a good idea to end them and tough out your marriage. It reminded me of the pile of crap I turned into for a year and half. Most of our class knows what I did. My mind played for me a constant stream of their judgement, what they would really say if they could. 

Our kids didn't get a nap today, and so they were terrible. When we were in the store, they acted out, climbed on shelving, and were just generally ill-behaved. I had to yell at them several times. I had to threaten to spank them repeatedly. 

We were in Tulsa traffic today. It was so humid you felt like you were swimming through the air instead of walking. We waited over an hour for a table at the restaurant. I was sweating everywhere we went. I snapped at Alicia. I was sulky and petulant for most of the afternoon. 

Today was a good day.

I woke up this morning. The Lord gave me another day.

I got to see an article that I wrote in the paper. I'm a writer. I am living my dream.

We got in one of the two cars we own and drove to church. We walked in the doors of the building without anyone trying to kill us for what we believed, and we listened to a sermon that taught me some things.

I got the chance to remember two very special people in my life. I remembered how they blessed me. How they both lived passionate lives before they were taken from me. I remembered the impact that they had on the lives around them, and how truthfully, they are both so much happier now.

I remembered dad today. I thought about the things that he'd say to our kids. I thought about how he'd hug them, squeeze them, and I thought about how that tough old Brian Sloat would probably be transformed into a giant softy by the introduction of his three grandkids. I found myself thinking about how I need to take them to see his grave, make him more real to them. Maybe soon.

I will not continue to be afraid of death. I will die. When I die, I will leave many people in this world, but I will be reunited with my father, my grandmother, a few uncles, an aunt, and Kambrin. I will not continue to be afraid of death.

I got to watch my newly saved and baptized daughter take the Lord's Supper. I got to see her eat the cracker and drink the grape juice, even ignoring my own so I could sneak a little peek at her. I thought about where she might be without us. I got to thank God for them both.

The Sunday School lesson talked about love. It talked about how even sure-footed people can fall into traps. It talked about how coming clean is always the best policy. It reminded me of my wife's forgiveness. It reminded me of why I fell in love with her in the first place. It reminded me that maybe I need to wash a few more dishes this next week, just to show her that I love her.

I got to spend a solid day with our kids. I don't get to see them during the week, and I spent all day with them today. No naps, no real separation, and no breaks. They were active. They were joyful. They enjoyed being alive and playing when and where they could. There was a time when they couldn't do that.

We hung out with some amazing friends today. We ate lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, and we laughed and fellowshipped the entire time. I was hot and sweaty, but I was walking. When I snapped at Alicia, she shrugged it off, knowing I was in a mood.

Today was a bad day. Today was a good day.

***

If the truth was told, most of my days are like this, and so are most of yours. We all take the good and bad, and at the end of the day weigh them on the scales of our temperament, and we draw our conclusions on whether the day was "good" or "bad."

There is a story making the rounds on Facebook that I love. It explains the situation perfectly. According to the Internet, it's an old Cherokee legend.


An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." 

He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."


I will make every effort to feed the good wolf from this day forward. The evil wolf will continue to fight, for that is what he does best. I will be tempted with negative thoughts, pity-parties, and bad attitudes. I'll have days where I want to be pissy and lame.

But I'll try. I'll give the good wolf Milk-Bones and organic, veterinarian-approved dog food. I'll give him clean water every day and take him in for regularly scheduled vaccinations. I'll brush his fur once a week and tell him that he is the best wolf a guy could ever ask for, and "Who's a good boy? Who's a good boy? Is it you? Yes it's you."

And maybe, just maybe...I'll shake this nasty writer's block and get back to blogging about things.